Marketing body Ausfilm is going against tradition and promoting Australians who work behind the scenes in filmmaking as part of G’Day USA, the annual promotion that officially starts next week in Los Angeles and involves a range of industries.


Ausfilm has previously concentrated on attracting offshore films to Australia by putting the emphasis on financial incentives, diverse locations and filmmaking services. The new strategy aims to hammer home the message that Australia has heads of department with the skills and experience to match these films, while also raising the possibility of accessing the relatively new and very generous 40% rebate for Australian films by forging partnerships with Australians.

Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, made with the backing of 20th Century Fox, is expected to get back up to 40% of its Australian expenditure under the relatively new producer rebate. Before the introduction of this rebate, the film would only have been able to claim the 15% rebate that still exists for foreign films shooting in Australia.

‘We market all the rebates but the 40% rebate is unique because production (to be eligible) has to be driven from Australia,’ said Ausfilm chief executive Caroline Pitcher. ‘We have always dealt with those in charge of physical production but we are now being contacted by those involved in development.’

Two key members of the team who made Australia, DoP Mandy Walker and writer Stuart Beattie (Pirates Of The Caribbean), will be on a discussion panel expected to attract more than 200 studio and other executives to a film industry breakfast being held this Tuesday, Jan 13 in Los Angeles.

Other speakers include animator Adam Elliot, whose film Mary And Max opens the Sundance Film Festival, Greg McLean, who made Rogue with more than A0m from The Weinstein Company, and Alex Sangston, head of the producer offset and co-production at Screen Australia. Alaric McAusland, Ausfilm deputy chair and managing director of laboratory and post-production facility Deluxe Australia, will host the event.

‘It is very quiet at the moment, particularly because there is no resolution on potential strike action (by actors),’ said Pitcher about runaway production. She is looking forward to getting insights into the thinking of executives in the light of this and the current global financial situation. She expects about a third of her member organisations and agencies to be represented.

G’Day USA is in its sixth year and is the largest foreign country promotion held annually in the US. More than 25 events are being held in LA, New York and, for the first time, San Francisco, to showcase Australian food and wine, fashion, the arts and entertainment, financial services, tourism and investment opportunities.

The events are run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, Tourism Australia and Qantas Airways, with the support of six state governments and about 35 sponsors.

Actors Eric Bana and Rachel Griffiths, and former world champion tennis player Rod Laver, are being honoured in LA at a black tie dinner on Jan 18 at the Renaissance Hotel, and Luhrmann will be presented with an award by Hugh Jackman, the lead in Australia and the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine, at a second dinner on Jan 23 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

Ausfilm’s next campaign focus will be on the 15% post, digital and visual effects production offset. Like the 40%, it was introduced on July 1, 2007. Any film or television program that spends more than A$5m in Australia is eligible, irrespective of where filming occurred.